1969 Camaro Z/28 IdentificationDo your homework and save big bucks
The Chevrolet Z/28 is genuinely a legend in its own time. Conceived by Chevrolet engineer Vince Piggins, the car was Chevy's entry into the new Trans-Am racing series in the mid-Sixties. Battling against the Mustang Boss 302, Mercury Cougar, AMX and other muscle cars, it won the Trans-Am Championship in 1969. Today, the street versions are highly prized by Camaro collectors and restorers. But there is a caveat-the really valuable examples must be numbers-matching and factory-stock.
By doing some simple research prior to searching for a '69 Z/28, you can avoid buying a vehicle that's been altered or-even worse-cloned. All '69 Z/28s were Sport Coupe body styles with the model number 12437 on the cowl tag. They were manufactured at either the Norwood, Ohio, or Los Angeles, California, assembly plants. No Z/28s were equipped with air conditioning, all were four-speeds and the name badge was derived from the Chevrolet RPO (regular production order) number, which was Z/28. A few were ordered with the very rare four-wheel disc-brake option, Code JL8. Another little-known fact is that the car could have been ordered with the body stripes deleted. Most buyers wanted these stripes, though-it was the visual clue that you had a very special Camaro.
Here are some important numbers and codes that must be present for a Z/28 to be verified as original. This is part of-but not all-the research you should do before spending $15,000-$25,000 for a '69 Z/28. Do it right, do it once and be happy with your purchase.
The small metal plate attached to the firewall is called the cowl tag. It has the body-style number (12437), the assembly plant, date of manufacture and the all-important X33 (without style trim group) or X77 (with style trim group) ID code. For cars with a spoiler, the code D80 will also appear, along with the interior and exterior trim codes. This tag shows the X33 and build-date code 05A, which translates to the first week of May. The NOR at the top right signifies the Norwood assembly plant.
The engine code is located on a machined pad on the passenger side of the block, just under the head. This stamped-in series of numbers sometimes contains part of the vehicle identification number as well as the engine code. All 1969 302 CID Z/28 engines were stamped with engine code DZ; any other code indicates that the engine isn't original. This is a very critical code: Having a replacement 350 small-block or big-block detracts from the car's desirability and value.
The next critical ID number is cast into the block at the driver's side rear of the block. Four different numbers were used in 1969, and all are correct for the Z/28: 3932386, 3932388, 3956618 and 3970010. This example shows 3956618, which is correct. While the number code with the DZ could be re-stamped on the pad out front, this casting number can never be counterfeited. It might be difficult to see with the hood on the vehicle, but a flashlight and a little patience will bring it to light and help put your mind at rest.
The cylinder-head casting is upside down in this photo because that's the way the factory set it up. All '69 Z/28 heads carry the same number: 3927186. These heads have 11:1 compression. (The roller-tip rockers shown here are not stock.) Depending on which head you're looking at, the number is between the last two sets of rockers on the driver's side or the first two sets on the passenger's side. A shrewd buyer will ask the seller to remove the valve covers to verify these numbers. A motivated seller should cooperate unless he has something to hide.
The Z/28 was fitted with an aluminum high-rise intake made by the Winters casting company. A snowflake logo is cast into the aluminum, as is the correct part number, 3932472. Intake manifolds have often been changed to aftermarket units, but for a correct restoration, this is a required part. The ID number is in plain sight on top of the runners at the back of the carburetor. Again, a little squirming might be required to read the number, but the reward is worth the effort. Critical parts that are missing seriously devaluate the car. Remember that in the negotiating process.
The stock Z/28 carburetor is a Holley #4053, GM part number 3923289-DZ. Like the intake, many times this part has been replaced with a different Holley or a rival-brand carburetor. The DZ code appears again on the carb's air horn, which distinguishes the unit as a specific Z/28 carburetor. You must remove the air cleaner assembly to find this code. Anything different means that the carb is incorrect for the 290-hp Turbo-Fire 302 engine.
A few more tidbits of information that should be of interest surround the transmission and rearend options. Three four-speed Muncie options were available: the wide-ratio M20, the close-ratio M21 and the heavy-duty close-ratio M22 (called the "rock crusher"). Standard rearend gearing options were 3.73, 3.55 and 4.10; 3.07 and 3.31 were available by special order.
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